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Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

A closer look at major-party donations in the Virginia gubernatorial election

Candidates for governor of Virginia filed campaign finance reports on July 15, 2021, providing new totals in the race. The major-party candidates—Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R)—have both raised roughly $20 million for their respective campaigns, according to the most recent reports. 

A closer look at the sources of those campaign contributions shows that 94% of McAuliffe’s contributions—$19.2 million—have come from direct, itemized donations totaling more than $100. Youngkin lent his campaign $12 million, which makes up 61% of his total campaign contributions.

Itemized donations are those where information about the donor is provided in the campaign finance report including his or her name and address. Using the state data provided by the candidates’ reports, Ballotpedia found that a majority of McAuliffe’s itemized contributions—$11.2 million—came from donors outside of Virginia. The majority of Youngkin’s itemized contributions—$5.0 million—came from zip codes in Virginia. For both candidates, the largest single source of donations outside of Virginia is Washington, D.C.

An analysis of the zip codes for itemized Virginian donations shows that four of McAuliffe’s five largest sources are located in Fairfax County, in the state’s northeast, and one is located in Albemarle County, which surrounds the University of Virginia. To date, McAuliffe’s largest source of itemized donations—$1.5 million—is located in Alexandria, Va.

Three of Youngkin’s five largest sources of itemized Virginia donations are located in the independent city of Virginia Beach, in the state’s southeast. The remaining two zip codes are located in Fairfax County, and Henrico County, which includes the region surrounding the state’s capital: Richmond. Youngkin’s largest source of itemized donations—$547,675—is located in Virginia Beach, Va.

Virginians will elect a new governor in the Nov. 2 general election. Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections since 2012. Two recent polls have shown the race about even with McAuliffe and Youngkin receiving support within the respective margins of errors. In addition to the major-party candidates, Princess Blanding, the Liberation Party candidate, will also appear on the general election ballot. She has raised $20,604 as of June 30 and has $7,739 on hand according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

To learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election, click here.



India Walton defeats four-term incumbent Byron Brown in Buffalo Democratic mayoral primary

India Walton (D), a nurse and community activist, defeated four-term incumbent Byron Brown (D) and Le’Candice Durham (D) in the Democratic primary for Mayor of Buffalo, New York, on June 22, 2021. According to unofficial results, Walton received 52% of the vote followed by Brown and Durham with 45% and 3%, respectively.

The New York Times‘ Luis Ferré-Sadurní described the race as an upset, saying the outcome “could upend the political landscape in New York’s second-biggest city and signal the strength of the party’s left wing.”

Brown was first elected Mayor of Buffalo in 2005 and won re-election three times. Before his defeat in 2021, Brown had won the four preceding Democratic primaries by an average of 26.5 percentage points. In 2021, he ran with the support of the Erie County Democratic Committee and multiple local labor unions including the Buffalo Central Labor Council.

Walton received endorsements from progressive organizations including Our Revolution and the local and national branches of the Democratic Socialists of America. She also received an endorsement from the Working Families Party of New York, which, until 2021, had endorsed Brown in all of his previous runs for mayor.

Since no Republicans filed to appear on the primary ballot, it is likely Walton will advance to the general election without major party opposition. If elected, Walton would become Buffalo’s first female mayor. She would also become the first socialist mayor of a large American city since 1960.

Learn more about the mayoral race in Buffalo here.



Virginia gubernatorial candidates seek to define themselves, one another as the general election begins

Campaigns for Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) in the election for Governor of Virginia released new adsshortly after the major-party nominating contests came to a close in recent weeks.

Following Youngkin’s nomination on May 10, former Gov. McAuliffe released an ad titled “Virginia Forward” where he compared Youngkin to former President Donald Trump (R), saying, “Youngkin wants to bring Trump’s extremism to Virginia.” McAuliffe went on to say he would defend policies from his administration including the expansion of Medicaid, protections for reproductive rights, and the expansion of voting rights.

After McAuliffe won the Democratic primary on June 8, Youngkin released an ad titled “Time For Change” featuring one of McAuliffe’s Democratic primary opponents, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, criticizing the former governor’s tenure. At the end of the ad, Youngkin described himself as “a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia.” A second ad—”A New Day”—reiterated this theme with Youngkin saying he would create jobs, improve education, and make communities more safe.

Two satellite groups—the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV)—also released ads following the nomination contests. The DGA associated Youngkin with Trump and said his main priority was, “telling the same Big Lie Trump tells about the last election and trying to restrict your right to vote in the next.” The RPV’s ad used a speech given by McAuliffe interspersed with a series of news clips from the previous eight years on topics including rates of violent crime, changes to public school curricula, and a transportation company’s decision to move out of Virginia.

A recent poll of 550 likely voters shows a close race. The poll, commissioned by CNanalytics and conducted by JMC Analytics, showed McAuliffe receiving support from 46% of respondents to Youngkin’s 42%, a difference within the poll’s ± 4.2 margin of error. The remaining 12% of the respondents were either undecided or did not respond. No third party candidates were included in the poll, though at least one candidate, Princess Blanding (I), will also appear on the general election ballot.

Every four years, the Virginia gubernatorial election is one of the first major statewide elections following the presidential election. Since 1977, the state has elected a governor from the opposite party of the president in every election except for 2013 when McAuliffe was elected governor following Barack Obama’s (D) re-election. In more recent years, Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012.

The gubernatorial election will determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994 after Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and the state Senate. A McAuliffe victory could continue the Democratic trifecta if Democrats also retain a majority in the House of Delegates. A Youngkin victory would make Virginia a divided government since the Democrat-controlled Senate is not holding elections this year.

Learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election here.



Two state legislative incumbents defeated in New Jersey primary elections, a decade-high

Two members of New Jersey’s General Assembly lost to primary challengers on June 8, 2021, a decade-high number for the legislature.

Serena DiMaso (R) in the multi-member District 13 lost to Gerard Scharfenberger (R) and Victoria Flynn (R). Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D) from Assembly District 31 unofficially withdrew from the race before the primary, but his name remained on the ballot.

The Democratic primary in Assembly District 18 and the Republican primary in District 26, both featuring two incumbents each, remain too close to call as of June 11.

All four state Senate incumbents facing primary challenges won.

Primary defeats for incumbents in the New Jersey State Legislature are uncommon. Before 2021, only one state legislative incumbent had lost in a primary election: Assm. Joe Howarth (R) in 2019. No incumbent state Senator has lost in a primary since 2003.

In addition to the two primary defeats, five Democrats and three Republicans chose not to seek re-election in the General Assembly. In the state Senate, one Democrat and three Republicans opted against re-election.

Use the following links to learn more about New Jersey’s 2021 state legislative elections:



Decade-high number of incumbents defeated in Virginia House of Delegates primaries

Challengers defeated a decade-high four incumbents in the June 8 primaries for Virginia’s House of Delegates. Those incumbents are:

• Charles Poindexter (R) – House District 9

• Mark Levine (D) – House District 45

• Lee Carter (D) – House District 50

• Steve Heretick (D) – House District 79

These House incumbents were the first to lose in primaries since 2015, when two incumbents lost to challengers. Two incumbents also lost in the 2013 primaries, and none lost in 2011.

Two of the four incumbents—Levine and Carter—also appeared on statewide primary ballots. Levine was a candidate for lieutenant governor and Carter was a candidate for governor. Both lost in their respective statewide primaries, as well.

The Democratic primary in House District 86 between incumbent Del. Ibraheem Samirah and Irene Shin is too close to call as of June 11.

In addition to the four incumbents defeated in primary elections, six incumbents—one Democrat and five Republicans—did not seek re-election, meaning at least ten newcomers will be elected to the 100-person chamber in November.

Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority in the chamber following its flip in 2019. Fifty Democratic incumbents and 39 Republicans are slated to appear on general election ballots in November.

To learn more about Virginia’s 2021 House of Delegates elections, click here: Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2021



Former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe defeated four candidates to win the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. McAuliffe received 62.3% of the vote followed by former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy with 19.8% and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan at 11.5%. Two other candidates—Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter—received less than 5% of the vote each.

In addition to his tenure as Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005 and was the national chairman of Hillary Clinton’s (D) 2008 presidential campaign.

Democratic Party leaders in Virginia supported McAuliffe’s primary campaign. He received endorsements from incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and 36 Democratic members of the Virginia General Assembly, including House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D).

McAuliffe will face Glenn Youngkin (R) in the general election. Three independent candidates—Princess Blanding, Paul Davis, and Brad Froman—will also appear on the general election ballot.

This was the fourth contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia since 1977. It was also the largest Democratic primary field for a gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history. Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia since 2012.

Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats gained majorities in the state House and Senate. In addition to the gubernatorial election, all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates will be up for election in November.



Seventy-nine percent of state legislative incumbents in New Jersey will not face a contested primary this year

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Ninety percent of state legislative incumbents in New Jersey are seeking re-election in 2021. Of these 108 incumbents, 79%—85 legislators—will advance to the general election without a primary challenge, according to Ballotpedia’s primary election competitiveness analysis.

The remaining 23 incumbents—nine Democrats and 14 Republicans—will face contested primaries on June 8, 2021.

When an incumbent faces a contested primary, there is the chance he or she might be defeated before the general election, typically guaranteeing the seat to a newcomer. These defeats—along with retirements and general election losses—contribute to the overall incumbent turnover during each election cycle.

The most common cause of incumbent turnover is retirement, which, over the past decade, accounted for 70 percent of all state legislative turnover. Primary election defeats—at 10 percent—were the most uncommon cause of turnover.

Primary election defeats in New Jersey are especially rare. Since 2011, only one state legislative incumbent has been defeated in one: Assm. Joe Howarth, who lost in a 2019 Republican primary.

Contested incumbent primaries became more common in New Jersey during the 2017 state legislative elections. In 2019, the state saw a decade-high rate with around one-third of all incumbents facing primary challenges. The rate decreased to around one-fifth of all incumbents facing contested primaries in 2021 but remains higher than rates from the first half of the past decade.

Virginia is also holding state legislative elections in its House of Delegates in 2021. Based on preliminary data, the state is slated to see a decade-high rate of incumbents facing contested primaries at 18.1%. Out of the 100 incumbents, 94 are seeking re-election, 17 of whom will face contested primaries. Parties in Virginia use a mixture of primaries and conventions to select nominees. All primaries will take place on June 8 whereas convention dates are selected by district parties. Ballotpedia will update its primary competitiveness data for Virginia as it becomes available.

Ballotpedia is collecting primary election competitiveness statistics for all regularly-scheduled state legislative and state executive elections ongoing in 2021. Learn more here. Use the links below to view coverage of the New Jersey and Virginia state legislative elections:



Jim Ross defeats Michael Glaspie in mayoral runoff election in Arlington, Texas

Attorney Jim Ross defeated former city councilor Michael Glaspie in the general election runoff for mayor of Arlington, Texas, on June 5, 2021. Ross received 54.4% of the vote to Glaspie’s 45.6%. This was the first mayoral election in Arlington since 2003 without an incumbent on the ballot. Mayor Jeff Williams (R) was term-limited and unable to seek re-election.

Ross received an early endorsement from Williams and described his campaign as a continuation of the incumbent’s tenure. On his campaign website, Ross wrote, “as Mayor Williams approaches the end of his last term in office, the big question is, ‘Where do we go from here?’ The answer is simple, FORWARD!”

Before entering the election, Ross owned a law firm and Mercury Chophouse, a local restaurant. He previously worked as a police officer with the Arlington Police Department and served on the board of directors for the Arlington Police Foundation. In addition to his endorsement from Williams, Ross received endorsements from Arlington’s four police unions.



Voters to decide state legislative primaries in New Jersey, Virginia on June 8

Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding state legislative elections this year. Democratic and Republican voters in each state will be selecting nominees for these races on June 8.

In New Jersey, all 120 state legislative seats are up for election: 80 in the General Assembly and 40 in the state Senate.

Ninety percent of incumbents, or 108 legislators, are running for re-election, down from 2019 when 95% of incumbents ran for re-election.

A majority of incumbents running for re-election in 2021, 85 legislators, will not face a primary and will advance directly to the general election. The remaining 23—nine Democrats and 14 Republicans—face contested primaries. This is the lowest share of incumbents facing contested primaries in New Jersey since 2015.

Former Assm. Joe Howarth (R), who lost a primary in 2019, is the only state legislative incumbent to lose a primary in New Jersey since 2011.

Democrats have held majorities in both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature since 2003 and currently hold a Democratic trifecta alongside incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who is also running for re-election in 2021.

In Virginia, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election. 

Ninety-four percent of incumbents filed to run for re-election to the House in 2021, more than 2019 (84%) and 2017 (93%). Of the six incumbents not seeking re-election, one is a Democrat and five are Republicans. 

Not all state legislative nominees in Virginia are chosen through a primary. District Democratic and Republican parties may choose to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary to pick their candidates. In 2021, at least 22 state legislative district parties—five Democratic and 17 Republican—chose conventions as their selection method.

In 2019, one House incumbent—Del. Robert Thomas Jr. (R)—lost in a primary election. Thomas’ defeat was the first for a House incumbent in Virginia since 2015 when Mark Berg (R) and Johnny Joannau (D) lost in their respective primaries.

This is the first state legislative election cycle in Virginia since Democrats won a majority in the House of Delegates. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994. The chart below shows the change in partisan control of the House of Delegates since 2011.

To learn more about these state legislative elections, use the links below:



Jean Stothert wins re-election to third term as mayor of Omaha, Nebraska

Incumbent Jean Stothert (R) defeated RJ Neary (D) in the nonpartisan mayoral general election in Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, winning election to a third term.

Unofficial results showed Stothert received 67% of the vote to Neary’s 33% at the time of his concession.

Stothert described her campaign for re-election as an effort to continue projects that had begun during her tenure such as the development of the city’s waterfront spaces along the Missouri River. Stothert also emphasized her expansion of the city’s police force and the passage of a bond package to fund road repairs.

Neary, a commercial real estate developer and former member of the Omaha Planning Board, called Omaha “a great city but one that struggles with racial inequities,” adding that he “envisions a more equal Omaha, with more and better affordable housing, and a more sustainable transportation system.”

Stothert is one of 25 Republican mayors among the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013 after defeating incumbent Jim Suttle (D) 57% to 43% and won re-election to a second term in 2017 with 53% of the vote.

If Stothert serves a full four-year term as mayor, she will become the longest-serving mayor in Omaha’s history. No mayor has served for more than nine consecutive years. Stothert has already served eight years as mayor.

To learn more about the mayoral election in Omaha, click here: Mayoral election in Omaha, Nebraska (2021)